Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Circle

SEPT Affair on Main Metaline Falls 09012018 3L0A2900 (2)
Image copyright K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2018.

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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Circle”

  1. Going Around In…

    “Holy moly, I am in a tizzy. Delirious with conflicting interests.”
    “Holy moly, eh? What are you talking about Chuck? “
    “Life. Plain and simple, Dan. Life. It’s getting the better of me.”
    “How so, neighbour? From where I’m standing, on my side of the fence, you look like you’ve got the
    world by the tail. Lovely wife. Two kids who haven’t been arrested yet. Way ahead of me.”
    “Sorry about little Jimmy. “
    “Eighteen, going on…five to life.”
    “Burglary, wasn’t it?”
    “Nope. Just a locked-down kid needing to explore. This Covid thing. Tough enough for adults…figuring out finances, keeping the family together. Kids…Jim just went stir crazy. Out on bail. Learned his lesson. Virtual learning’s here to stay. Poor kid just missed the bigness of school. What about your angst?”
    “Same as your Jimmy, I s’pose Dan. Marge and me, well, hells bells, this is the longest stretch we’ve spent together since that first year of marriage. I think I’m getting on her nerves.”
    “She say so?”
    “Not in so many words. She’s started calling me tubby. Remember we used to go to the gym together. Can’t do that right now. Bought a treadmill. Terrible name…life on a Covid treadmill sucks. Broke anyways. Then she said, hang some exercise rings from the ceiling…we have a high living room ceiling. She’s in there all the time now. Wants to become an acrobat.”
    “Might be good at it.”
    “Driving me batty…we need normal again?”
    “’Fraid normal’s toast, Dan.”

  2. Circle of Imagination

    “I believe I can fly,” the artiste fantasized aloud, as she balanced her contorted frame inside her flying circle. “What I conceive is all that really matters to a conceptual performance artist. Those mere mortals beneath me can choose to soar as a willing partner, or plod along the Earth with feet of clay.”

    Angelique stared at her inquisitor, undaunted by the vapid eyes and expression of her tormentor. The stone-faced representative of society’s norm asked, and the spirited avant-garde star answered. The black and white woman imprisoned the girl’s technicolor opinions in the electronic media of a high-tech tablet, so maybe this humorless android was a performer in her own right. That image made Angelique chuckle.

    “I see your delusion of self-superiority remains as strong as ever,” her robotic interrogator droned. “And here I thought we made some progress.”

    “No, I’m sorry,” Angelique apologized. “I balance above you in my heavenly circle on the edge of Occam’s razor, yet you cannot grasp the simplest explanation as the correct one. Who is right and who is wrong has no meaning, no definition for me. I believe I can fly and you do not, so case closed.”
    Angelique turned her face away from the immovable object with an irresistible grin and stared at the sky. Her opponent checked the clock on her desk and exhaled.

    “Well, this court appointed session is over with no apparent headway,” the therapist sighed. “I’ll see you next week at this same time.”

  3. “Try it again,” he said. “You need to watch carefully, or you’ll miss it.”

    We sat together, side by side, Harrison already knowing what would happen. He’d said nothing to suggest what I was looking for – I supposed it would be obvious; that I wouldn’t need a prompt to see what he’d brought me to see.

    The recording showed a street scene. I could see the crowd watching some performers, the camera directed toward an acrobat, sitting within a ring suspended from a ribbon, the ribbon hanging from a structure positioned out of the shot. The acrobat was a woman, a blonde wearing a beret, her toes gripping the hoop as she finessed her moves.

    A flash of light distracted me, a stutter between the frames.

    “What was that?” I said, reaching for the remote.

    I played it again, slower this time, advancing it at a tenth the original speed.

    The blonde repeated her choreography, one shoulder pressed against the slim bar of the cane circle that supported her. Beyond her, I could see a window, a hazy square of gauze stretched across it. The wall around it was a light honeyed yellow, lit by the sun, its texture suggesting it had been rendered with a gravel-rich cement.

    A pair of dark eyes appeared, glowing red, as the circle blinked – the blonde’s face morphing into a skull.

    And then they were gone, the woman as before.

    The demons were breaking through again. We would need to move fast.

  4. Menda City

    In the off-world metropolis of Menda City, there existed a parallel society: those who lived on flat ground (called Flatlanders) and those who existed in circle rings in the sky (called Ringers).

    Flatlanders were highly suggestible, believed everything they were told, and adhered to the adage: “Everything known is all there is to know.”

    The Ringers, on the other hand, believed in learning. Being sky-dwellers, they could see further and understood the limitations of their current knowledge.

    The Flatlanders considered Ringer views to be heretical. They argued that the Ringers’ viewpoint was contrary to the established order and was destabilizing society. To stop them, the Flatlanders circulated a petition to outlaw the opinions of those who dwelt in the sky.

    The Ringers, concerned about the petition’s effect on free thought and speech, appealed to the Flatlanders: “Please listen. There is a diabolical plot to divide us. If you could see what we see, you would realize the folly of your beliefs.”

    The Flatlanders recoiled. The very thought of venturing above ground and entering the world of the Ringers filled them with collective fear.

    And so, after considering the matter, the Flatlanders gathered together and, using long-hooked poles, brought the sky-dwellers to the ground. They were then arrested and marched off to detention camps.

    As the Ringers were led away, a piece of paper slipped from one of their pockets.

    It read:

    Psychological control
    is what they’ve achieved.
    A clever psy-op move
    to divide and deceive.

  5. Circle

    My father was an old time magician who pulled bunnies out of sleek top hats. My mother was a new age acrobat who made fantastic contortions in a metal circle suspended above adoring crowds. If my father was described as traditional then mother was spiritual. And I? I was still working out my position in the universe.

    My parents had met under the Big Top. Although different in numerous ways, they actually defined or rather balanced each other. The old contrasted the new.

    For me my father was the past. My mother represented the present. It was not a question of the Beast and the Beauty in that they perfectly balanced each other. Wearing ultra modern trendy clothes, mother balanced in the circle high above the crowds . Quite unnecessary to use a safety net; mother never made a mistake. She was beauty and grace and totally in control. Far from her modern skateboard image, she in fact was quite the philosopher devouring Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. For her, the circle represented the circle of life. Mother like the circle was whole, original and perfect. Up in the air she was timeless.

    If father symbolised the past and mother the present, then I must be the future. For humanity’s future, I must find a new cure for Covid-19. Yet that was not enough! I wanted to find cures for humanity. I wanted to empty the world of pollution, perfect sustainable energy and fill mankind with kindness.

  6. He could see that she was another one of “those” girls, the ones who were always dreaming, spaced out even when they were trying a crowd-attracting stunt. She was some sort of acrobat or clown, like his daughter had aspired to. He wouldn’t have it. He’d been there, done that, knew the score. No daughter of his was going to color outside the lines.

    He had tried that once, before wife and kids, but it didn’t work. It wasn’t for lack of studying that had put the kybosh on his dreams of being a poet. He just wasn’t any good. He’d come to realize too late the pain of failure. Now he was a pot-bellied guy who swept floors and cleaned toilets for living. Once he figured out the score, he never put pen to paper again. He wouldn’t even read poetry.

    And he made damn sure his daughter didn’t make the same mistake he’d made.

    Gus stood still as the crowd passed the girl in the hanging ring, her eyes closed, the funny beret on her head corralling the blond strands of hair. Yes, she looked familiar but all the young blond-headed girls looked familiar since Jenny had left home. God, was it two years?

    The crowd bumped into him as he stared at the dreamer, that girl who could be his daughter but surely wasn’t. Where was his daughter?

    He averted his eyes but heard a small high-pitched voice from the hanging ring.



    “Get down. Now. ” I shouted to my teen daughter, oblivious to the crowd meandering twenty feet below at the Rony Roller Circus grounds outside Rome. Jaz had snuck away from our tour and was swinging like an enchanted child from an aerial hoop under the razor-sharp eye of a circus spotter.

    Her blond bun and pink lycra leggings sparkled in the sun. She smiled.

    I stifled further words. I mustn’t scare my baby. She might fall into the thin mat with cracked vinyl and stuffing leaching from its holes.

    Jaz pointed bare toes with pink polish, heaved a lean torso and muscular legs up and landed on the ring.

    My legs wobbled.

    Jaz swayed back and forth in the light breeze.

    I locked my knees.

    “Bellissima,” the man, all taut brown muscle, whispered.

    “Basta,” I said. “She’s a ballerina not an acrobat. Help me get Jaz down.”

    He shook his head. His faint smile signaled sympathy. “Stai calma, Donna,” he said with gentle authority.

    Jaz gyrated in graceful poses around the hoop.

    I inhaled to the count of seven, then let my breath out like a deflating balloon, over and over until I stood firm and could smile.

    Toes gripping and arm entwined on the steel ring, Jaz rocked back and forth and blew a kiss.

    “You have nothing to worry about, Signora,” the man said, “until the crowd circles beneath her.” He gave me a mischievous look. “Then you’ll know her moves are dangerous.”

    I blew a kiss back.

  8. Imagine a hula hoop, except made of steel rather than plastic, and suspended over a greensward. Maybe it’s a public park, or a university quadrangle. Maybe it’s the lawn of an apartment complex or office building. Whatever it is, it’s an area accessible to the public, where people come and go.

    So what do they do with it? Do they admire it, like a work of art? Do they throw a ball through it, like the vertical cousin of a basketball goal? Do they grab hold of it and use it as a piece of playground equipment? Or do they find some completely unexpected use for it?

    It was certainly an interesting experiment in human psychology, and now that I think back, I wonder if the ethics review board didn’t spend nearly enough time considering the potential for things to go wrong. Like the girl who climbed right into it and used it like a swing. If she’d lost her balance, she could’ve done herself a nasty injury.

    Heck, we were probably lucky the liability lawyers didn’t catch wind of it and shut the whole thing down before we even started.

  9. Title: Circle Affair

    She said she needed my help.
    I told her I was there for her.

    She asked for a ‘circle.’ I was confused. We had dated for a year, and it was near Valentine’s Day, so I thought she was hinting for a ‘ring.’

    It was a very nice diamond!
    She was extremely happy, but confessed, it wasn’t what she asked for. She told me it was just a ‘hoop’ she wanted me to get her.

    I bought her a hoola hoop next, and she just smiled and kissed me on the cheek. She invited me to the gym to see her routine. “Now do you know what I want?”

    So, I bought her the gym!
    She said I went overboard. She asked again for a ‘hoop’ for a home gym.

    I bought her one and hung it in the only room with a ceiling high enough – the bedroom.
    It has been ‘exciting’ watching her do her routine.

    She commented that I had more than ‘fulfilled’ her wishes.

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